The Use of Digital Technologies at School and Cognitive Learning Outcomes: A Population-Based Study in Finland

Aino I.L. Saarinen, Jari Lipsanen, Mirka Hintsanen, Minna Huotilainen, Liisa Keltikangas-Järvinen


Recently, the use of information and communications technology (ICT) at school has been extensively increased in Finland. This study investigated whether the use of ICT at school is linked to students ‘learning outcomes in Finland. We used the Finnish PISA 2015 data (N=5037). Cognitive learning outcomes (i.e. science, mathematics, reading, collaborative problem-solving) were evaluated with computer-based tests. ICT use at school, ICT availability at school, and students’ perceived ICT competence were assessed with self-rating questionnaires. Frequent ICT use at school predicted students’ weaker performance in all the cognitive learning outcomes, when adjusted for age, gender, parental socioeconomic status, students’ ICT competence, and ICT availability at school. Further, the effect of ICT use on learning outcomes was more negative in students with higher than lower ICT skills. Frequent use of  ICT at school appears to be linked to weaker cognitive learning outcomes in Finland. This may be explained by working memory overload and task-switching during the use of digital technologies. This finding also suggests that even though students with ICT skills are good at mechanical use of digital device, they may not have abilities for a goal-oriented and self-directed use of digital technologies that could promote their learning.


digital learning, learning outcomes,comprehensive school, teaching practices.

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International Journal of Educational Psychology - IJEP | ISSN: 2014-3591

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